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News Currents Sr.
News Currents Sr. is a current events program designed specifically for use as a group activity in a residential setting. It provides you with a stimulating and interactive approach for presenting current events each week.
Story Text | Faces and Places
Senator Bob Menendez
 On September 22, 2023, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez and four others, including Menendez’s wife, were indicted on corruption charges. Police searched Menendez’s home and discovered nearly half a million dollars in cash and around $100,000 in gold bars hidden away. Prosecutors allege that this money was given to Menendez by business owners in exchange for his political support. They also claim that Menendez provided the Egyptian government with sensitive U.S. intelligence and was well-paid for that as well. Menendez, a Democrat, has faced calls to resign even from high-ranking members of his own party. Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, and the state’s other senator, Cory Booker, have both called on Menendez to step down. But so far Menendez has remained defiant, claiming that he is innocent and that the charges are politically and even racially motivated. Do you think Menendez should step down? Why or why not?
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare
 Manasseh Sogavare, the prime minister of the Solomon Islands, sparked controversy when he refused to attend a summit held by President Biden. Biden had invited all the leaders of Pacific Island nations to the Pacific Islands Forum in Washington, D.C. to discuss their relations with the United States. Sogavare snubbed this meeting and instead sent his foreign affairs minister. He claims that he did not want to sit and listen to Biden “lecturing” him about America’s greatness. Many point to this snub as an example of growing Chinese influence among Pacific Island nations. These nations were once considered to be firmly within the American sphere of influence. But recently, some—including the Solomon Islands—have formed trade and other partnerships with China. This summit is widely seen as part of an ongoing U.S. plan to counter China and reestablish U.S. dominance over this strategically important region. Do you think Sogavare should have attended this forum? Why or why not?
 On Thursday, September 28, Armenian leaders in the Nagorno-Karabakh region formally announced the dissolution of their breakaway government. The Nagorno-Karabakh region is within the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan, but its population is largely made up of ethnic Armenians. This breakaway government was established after a war between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the 1990s, and for the last thirty years, Armenians have been able to live in this region in relative peace. However, recent invasions into this territory by the Azerbaijani government have caused the Nagorno-Karabakh government to break down, and it is now under full Azerbaijani control. Of the 120,000 Armenians who called this region home, around 70,000 have already fled to Armenia. Thousands more are trying to leave, and there have been reports of atrocities committed by Azerbaijani forces. What should the U.S. government do to help these ethnic Armenians?
 The California-based Writers Guild of America, or WGA, formally ended its strike on September 27, 2023. The WGA had been on strike since May 2, when contract negotiations between the union and studio executives fell apart. After nearly five months, these two parties have finally come to an agreement. The new contract is widely seen as a major win for the WGA. The executives agreed to large pay raises for writers, and they guaranteed that they will not use AI programs like ChatGPT to create source material for scripts. This good deal is seen as an encouraging sign for SAG-AFTRA, the Hollywood actors’ union, which has been on strike since mid-July. SAG-AFTRA hopes that they’ll be able to get studios to agree to a similarly labor-friendly contract, though it’s uncertain when these negotiations will resume. Do you think this deal will have an impact on the SAG-AFTRA strike? Why or why not?
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